About a week ago, I was traveling the typical route to work, my camera at the ready to get any interesting drive-by shots, when I saw him.
We had almost come to the by-pass and there he was, standing by the side of the road with what appeared to be a very large hat upon his head. As we got closer, I couldn’t quite make it out, but it was quite colorful and very grand indeed. Now, we were upon him and I could see that there were, in fact, chickens festooned upon his head. I raised my camera and just then, the shutter closed and I missed the shot.
I know, sounds rather astonishing, doesn’t it? Well, I can tell you it took me by surprise!
The man was tall and very thin, with a disproportionately thick mustache. He was dressed in a maroon shirt and was wearing a typical Indian ‘skirt’ (dhoti) pulled up above his knees and tied at his waist, as is the custom on very hot days. His ‘hat’ was brilliantly balanced on his head.
The chickens were laying in such a way as to appear sleeping, but clearly they were not, as they weren’t moving at all, and it would have been a fine trick indeed were they still living. I don’t know how they were tied together, but you couldn’t see their feet at all, only their bodies and heads.
They were plump with beautiful feathers in an array of colors; feathers the color of saffron with the ends tipped in India ink. Others followed in burnt sienna, burnished gold and a mottled coffee and cream. They were lying, with one head resting against the next one’s wing and so forth in a circle, like a big feathery wreath of chickens.
I wanted to ask him how he came to be wearing such a unique head dress, but he had disappeared into the crowd before I had the chance.
I look for him every day now at the same place hoping to catch sight of him so I can confirm my story, but I fear I shall never see the chicken man again.
I’ve seen so much here in India and most of the things I’ve seen, I see again. But I have told many people here about the man with the chicken hat and they seem astonished as well. So even though I continue to look for him, I believe that was one sight that will live only in my memory.
For now, I hope I’ve described this well enough for you to see it too, if you just close your eyes.